The route to being ‘employee owned’ and a sustainable future
It’s 73 years since Granby was founded. In those early days, we focused on promotional marketing and warehousing. In recent years, we’ve become one of the UK’s leading 3PL companies, showing how we can evolve and make it our own – something we’re still demonstrating even after more than 7 decades.
Recently, we hosted a roundtable event at Granby to discuss the benefits of being an employee owned business (delegates pictured above). Facilitated by Richard Slater of Lancashire Business View (LBV), a group of business owners and advisors, plus an employee owned expert, explored a topic that’s becoming somewhat of a trend.
The Employee Ownership Association reports that the sector has more than doubled in the past three years to more than 1,000. Companies that are employee owned or similar contribute £30bn to GDP. A significant trend!
For context, we went down this route in September 2022 with ‘indirect’ employee ownership, where employee shares are held in a trust and there’s an opportunity to share in profits through a profit related bonus.
It’s a natural evolution for us. Research says that being employee owned makes a business more likely to be entrepreneurial, innovative and elicits the highest standards across the board. It’s the perfect fit for our culture – we’ve always taken the view that your success is our success.
One of the most striking things that emerged during the discussion was that becoming employee owned begins as a decision of the heart more than the head.
Business decisions made from the heart
Back to the Granby-LBV roundtable. One of the most striking things that emerged during the discussion was that becoming employee owned begins as a decision of the heart more than the head.
While our legal and financial advisors focused on the practicalities and structures, participating business owners spoke of the emotional need to nurture their business long into the future. This included looking after the people who work with them and protecting the legacy of their efforts.
Granby’s journey began with soul-searching by Joanne Kimber, our Managing Director. Jo has been with the business since 2000 and became a majority shareholder in 2013. She had been thinking about her own exit strategy since a management buyout in 2013 but hadn’t found a solution that sat well with her.
“At some point in the future, I’m not going to be in the business and I want it to thrive without me,” she said. “If I’m honest, my soul searching did uncover an uncomfortable truth – that what is good for me might not be good for the business.
“‘Am I being risk averse, worried about my pension pot? Am I holding Granby back and preventing it from reaching its full potential? Do I need to hand over the reins and step back?’ That last question is important! I needed to reduce my hours and get a better work-life balance.”
It’s very exciting – a strong senior management team, an engaged workforce, a sustainable business model that creates Social Value in and of itself, which also helps clients do the same.
Financial stability and robust structures
While she didn’t know how the future was going to shape up, Jo was getting Granby into good shape for a change, whatever that might look like.
“I worked closely with our Director of Finance, Caroline Noblett because we needed to have spotless financials. I also built a strong leadership team to create a robust management structure with help from the Investors in People programme.
“After 22 years working in this business, Granby is like a child to me, there’s an emotional connection and I want it to continue. I looked into a trade sale to begin with but I was worried that they didn’t care about Granby or its people the same way I did.
“I haven’t got here on my own – it was important to me that the entire team is rewarded. Employee ownership satisfies everyone’s needs. I knew as soon as it was suggested that this was going to be the right way.
“It’s very exciting – a strong senior management team, an engaged workforce, a sustainable business model that creates Social Value in and of itself, which also helps clients do the same. I’m staying on as Managing Director and, thanks to this change, I’m getting a better work-life balance.”
Employee ownership shows the level of commitment – to client projects, to sustainability objectives, to making a difference.
Added value = an employee owned business
“I feel very positive about Granby as an employee owned business,” said Jo. “It’s good for everyone that works for us, our clients, our partners, and even our local community. I was very clear at the start that this is what I wanted to achieve, and becoming employee owned is the mechanism for this.
“For our clients, employee ownership is a guarantee. Anyone who has worked with us knows that we always go the extra mile, we always add value wherever we can. Employee ownership shows the level of commitment – to client projects, to sustainability objectives, to making a difference.”
Visit our company pages to find out more about what being employee owned means for Granby and the potential benefits to clients and partners. If you’ve got a project we can help on, get in touch.